In space, no one can hear a monkey scream. Well, we hope not. Because Iran is about to launch its second simian astronaut into orbit, and chances are that monkey is not going to be too happy about it.
Iran launched its first monkey in space this past January. The monkey went up in a capsule named Pishgam (the Farsi word for "Pioneer") and reportedly landed back on Earth in good health. International experts raised some doubts about the flight, as Iran released photos of a light-furred monkey before the flight and a dark-furred monkey after the landing, but Iran later clarified that they had a team of monkeys trained for the flight and issued the wrong photo before the launch.
Now it appears that another one of those trained space monkeys will soon be shooting skyward. Hamid Fazeli, deputy head of the Iran Space Agency, told the country's Press TV that another "indigenous bio-capsule" will be launched before the end of this month. Other species may accompany the primate on this ride. A report last month said Iran plans to send a Persian cat in space as early as March 2014. That's the same month that Iran plans to launch three new satellites. Various reports indicate that Iran has also shipped worms, mice and other small creatures into orbit.
So what's the endgame in all of this? Iran reportedly wants to have its own manned space program and is aiming to send humans into orbit by 2018 or so. Earlier this year Iran released some basic designs for a manned space craft that it said had been designed and built by scientists at the University of Haj Nasir. A press release said the craft was capable of carrying "one to three people to lower orbits for several hours." The craft contains several modules, including a return module for landing the astronauts.
Iran is one of 74 nations that have signed onto the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
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